Cleanliness Example #1 and Teamwork Example #2
You might have heard that Singapore is a very clean country, as I have. I imagine the public areas in Singapore are the cleanest in the world. We hear that people rarely see any littering on the streets. You can't even chew gum, or smoke in most public areas. The regulations are draconian in Singapore, and you get a harsh penalty or high fine, if you violate these rules. The cleanliness of Singapore has been created by the strict rules that the government imposes on the country. The country is small, which I think is a contributing factor to the government's ability to manage the nation this way. When I asked some Singaporeans how they feel about their strict rules, they told me that they did not like them. However, if they removed their very strict rules and regulations, they feared people might start littering in the public areas all over Singapore. Then, sadly, the country would become littered like many other South-East Asian countries, or other places in the world. There is a clear difference between Japanese and Singaporean cleanliness.
In Japan, our cleanliness has been created by the people's willingness, instead of by force. This behavior, along with hygiene and teamwork, is part of our history and is traditionally taught at home, schools, and through the local communities. At school, starting from kindergarten all the way until graduating from high school, in each classroom the students are divided into small groups. Each group is assigned an area to clean every day – teachers' rooms, classrooms, toilets, library, hallways, front garden, backyard, stairs, and all the other public areas. Besides daily cleaning of all the school facilities, students usually have a "Big Cleaning Day" a couple of times a year, which means all the students spend a half day deep-cleaning everything including the lights, the windows, and waxing the floors. In other countries, professionals are hired to clean the schools. As far as I know, Japan is the only country in the world where the students, together, are responsible for cleaning their whole school and keeping it clean. This is another example of how we are taught good manners, through working together with other people, from when we are very young.